There are a lot of indicators of a healthy romantic relationship, but Bernard Davidson, PhD, a licensed psychologist with Augusta University Psychiatry and Health Behavior, shares five key characteristics:
1. Mutual and self-respect
It’s critical for you and your partner to respect each other, but it’s just as important for you both to respect yourselves. Don’t allow the focus of the relationship to become skewed by centering too much around yourself or your partner. Neither a self-centered nor a co-dependent relationship leads to a lasting state of satisfaction.
2. A sense of playfulness
A willingness to be playful and express emotion with one another is important. “It reflects trust in a relationship and promotes individuals to be themselves,” Davidson said. Plus, it usually leads to increased expressions of physical affection.
3. Being able to accept differences
Differences are inevitable in relationships, and individuals shouldn’t constantly feel the need to be right. “Healthy relationships are marked by individuals having a capacity to deal with differences and contain their need to convince the other to adopt their own views,” Davidson said.
4. Separate interests and/or friendships
Each person should always be able to pursue their own interests and friendships outside of the relationship without their partner feeling jealous or threatened. This will not only create opportunities to support each other, but it also helps to maintain a separate sense of self. “You can only be as together as you can be separate,” Davidson said.
5. Good communication
The words you say to your partner, the body language you use and listening are all equally important in a relationship. People usually don’t remember what a disagreement was about, but they remember the form of the argument. Here are a few tips to help you and your partner communicate better with each other:
- Make the effort to repeat what your partner said to check if what you heard is correct.
- Have patience and stretch yourself to see things from your partner’s point of view.
- Match your nonverbal communication (eye contact, facial expressions, tone of voice) with your words.
- Create a signal to communicate to your partner that you need to take a break from a discussion when you feel it’s beginning to escalate into an argument.